You have a calculator? How lazy of you. And a pen, sheesh.... only authentic quills for me!
Seriously - I think Metacreator is great if you play by RAW and don't include lots of supplements that aren't included yet. I don't mind the interface or the bugs much, but I do find that it lacks a proper undo function and its generated histories and item details can be lacking. I think it's particularly good for creating uniformity in the saga, and updating multiple characters.
However, I don't really use it anymore. I find a text document more flexible, especially as it allows me to go into as much detail as I want, use the precise formats that I want, and in short do everything just as I want it. I use a spreadsheet for some calculations. I find this approach more satisfying, but it would be a pain to apply to numerous characters and it's a pain to do covenants this way.
As a story guide, I find metacreator excellent and I recommend it to any starting SG. I can quickly knock up 10-20 npcs (companion/magi) of varying amounts of experience and use them. I can also compare different characters with the same amount of xp, or the same character with varying amounts of xp. I'm looking forwards to getting the RoP Magic supplement for making lots of monsters! I am running my first AM saga, so this sort of thing helps me a lot (someone (like Marko) who has lots of experience with AM would probably find it gets in the way).
As a player, with only one major character to look after, I use an excel spreadsheet for lab work and advancement and a word doc for the actual character sheet.
This can be solved by assigning those 50 XP to any other allowed skills, then put those 50 XPs into single weapon from the general pool, I don't have an issue with that, OK it's weird but no big deal.
Personnally, I run a saga set in the Greater Alps tribunal, with a huge amount a raw vis revenue for the pact (tribunal rules), and I do manage all the characters for everyone. A season advances take me 2 to 3 hours at most, printing included, all paperwork done (all character sheets updated, covenant sheet updated), and all major grogs have stats, we do have 7 players (thus 7 magi and 7 companions) , I do have 2 characters in the pact.
It allows me to save time on paperwork and calculations, while making some things harder (like special character designs etc). As my players were new to the game, I don't have any break-the-basics character and it does work for me and my tastes. As a lot of people I would really love to see it closer to the release schedule.
As someone else said, as long as you do not do fancy things which requires a recent book it's really a nice tool which does all the calculations for you and it makes locating errors easy, numerous characters created with pen and paper had either too much xp or way not enough and it allowed me to catch that in less than 10 minutes.
And another thing that's great with Metacreator, is when you use it with Dropbox. I fiddle with characters and Covenants at home and at work. With Dropbox I always have the newest file with me. And I share a folder with some other players. So the guy playing/advancing my Magus' apprentice keeps the updated character file the shared folder. So my Magus' character file points to this for his apprentice as assistant. And we also keep the Covenant file here, so everyone can acces the newest library.
Before Metacreator I had an xls sheet to keep track of my magus. My most important thing was to list my most urgent project ideas and have the sheet calculate how and if the magus could do it. If I saw I missed just a little bit Lab Total, I could backtrack (manually, though) and see which parameter was easiest to raise; Magic Theory, Lab Quality, Form, Technique or assistance.
It was really difficult to make, if one wanted to take into account all the variables with labs, lab texts, virtues & flaws etc. Every time I discovered something new, I had to add it to keep it as general as possible. It ended up being very confusing and most likely with some flaws, even though I kept doing the math by hand to correlate.
At first sign of Metacreator I gave up that thing, and haven't looked back since.
Sure, MC only does things you can do yourself by hand. If you know the system, it's not that difficult. You just have to keep track of changes (improved art score for instance) by hand. And it assumes you use RAW and not too many House Rules. I find that in 5th ed I have little inclination to house rule, which wan't true for 4th.
I dunno if using MC makes it easier or harder for new players to grasp the system, I've never tried.
It let's me keep track of my characters (like UV mentioned, the laptop usually comes to the gaming session with me).
It let's me keep track of the Covenant, including economy (because someone insisted on the complex system, but couldn't be bothered to keep track of the silver himself) and even the vis spent.
It let's me check up on lab-totals compared to effect and keep track of what happened when.
It also allows me to create a handful of NPCs in the train, without having to fiddle with 3 books and a block of paper.
Can you add your own stuff (such as virtues, abilities, etc. your group has created) into MC? If so I could see adding a lot of stuff from supplements into it myself so it could handle everything I'd want.
Does it handle multiple forms for shapeshifting? I'm specifically thinking of Bjornaer here.
You can certainly add your own virtues, etc. In fact, before they released the Mystery Cults add-on I did just that to support my Verditius, his venditore, and some other mystery virtues. It's a little harder if they tend to affect totals or lab activities, but for basic "start with 5xp in this" or "gain a new ability", anyone can do it.
Not sure about the Bjornaer thing though. I've never really had to deal with those in Metacreator.
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